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Spezzano, C. (1994). Commentary on Martin Stephen Frommer's “Homosexuality and Psychoanalysis”. Psychoanal. Dial., 4(2):241-245.
(1994). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 4(2):241-245
Commentary on Martin Stephen Frommer's “Homosexuality and Psychoanalysis”
Charles Spezzano, Ph.D.
Psychoanalysis, as a clinical and investigative endeavor, cannot authoritatively establish the main point that Dr. Frommer makes: a homosexual orientation is not a choice, not a developmental outcome, but a biological given. That premise can certainly be well defended by marshaling the available biological research, but it can be neither defended nor refuted in any meaningful way from within psychoanalysis. As close as we can come is what Frommer accepts: we can simply take, a priori, the position that a male patient with a lifelong history of getting erections over men and not women is truly homosexual by birth and that, therefore, his true self is a homosexual self. The patient may love or hate that self, but his hating it would not mean that it is not his biologically determined core. People hate their true selves in both the Kohutian and Winnicottian psychologies of the self, but analysts have been prone to conclude that the hated version of them is, by the very fact of its being hated, a false self, in the case of homosexuals. When heterosexual men find themselves, in their analyses, conflicted about women, becoming uninterested in them, or hating them, or even when heterosexual men wonder if they might really be homosexual, we have no reason to assume they are really gay. So we should not, Frommer can be heard to argue, assume that a gay man—again, I am assuming, despite Frommer's not having said this explicitly, a man whose lifelong erections have been over real or imagined males—who is conflicted about being sexually excited by men, has lost interest in men, or even now hates men and himself for being excited by them is, therefore, really heterosexual.
Charles Spezzano teaches and supervises at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California. He is the author of Affect in Psychoanalysis (The Analytic Press, 1993) and is now writing another book about psychoanalytic technique.